It’s that time again. Playoff football. The Wild-Card round sets the tone for the rest of the playoffs. It’s where teams that have built momentum late in the season pick up more steam while the higher seeds are left to cool off at home. For me, it’s the most fun round of the playoffs. Let’s get into it:
Kansas City Chiefs @ Houston Texans
Considering the Chiefs haven’t lost since mid-October, they should be heavily favored in this game. The key on Saturday will be in the trenches. KC regains linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston while the Texans have lost their starting left tackle Duane Brown for the playoffs. That pressure on an inexperienced quarterback like Brian Hoyer spells doom for the Texans. Kansas City wins.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cincinnati Bengals
Nevermind the injury to Andy Dalton, the 20th ranked pass defense spells doom for the Bengals this game. Antonio Brown and Ben Roethlisberger are on the other side of the ball for Pete’s sake. Has there been a more impressive QB/WR combo this season? I don’t think so. Steelers win.
Seattle Seahawks @ Minnesota Vikings
It’s becoming the norm for Seattle to start shaky, have a ‘find yourself’ moment, and then win games late in the year and become one of the hottest teams. They have won 6 out of their last 7 games. What’s especially impressive is most of it has been without Marshawn Lynch, who will be playing in the game on Sunday. That just fits the narrative too well. Seattle wins.
Green Bay Packers @ Washington
Kirk Cousins has been a great story in the NFL this season and it become much more impressive with a playoff victory over Aaron Rodgers. Sadly, his defense won’t be able to give him that opportunity. Washington has the 26th ranked rush defense in the NFL and when Eddie Lacy has more than 90 yards rushing, the Packers are 4-1. If the Packers get ahead it’s game over. When you let Dom Capers unleash Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers bad things happen. Packers win.
I’ve picked every road team to win this weekend. Not because I like underdogs, but because those teams deserve to be favored. The experience becomes so key in the playoffs as every action has more weight to it. It’s like talking off camera is totally easy and normal and then the camera comes on and suddenly the same action becomes so much harder. The pressure is on and the quarterbacks of the road teams have too much experience for their opponents to overcome.